Jews have existed since G-d created Adam and Chava. According to Jewish Scripture, this was approximately 6000 years ago.
Since then, the Jewish people have gone in many different directions, both physically (geographically) and spiritually.
Today, there are 15 types of Jews.
Ultimately, the type of Jew has no bearing on the root of being Jewish.
You will begin to see as the article goes on… most types of Jews deviate from the core of being Jewish; Observing the Torah.
Reform Jews arose in the early 19th century. To echo the sentiment of the introduction, it’s recent appearance indicates the deviation from being a Torah Observant Jew.
The number of Reform Jews are growing by the day. Currently, there are approximately 2 million Reform Jews.
Reform Jews take a liberal view of the Jewish Religion.
They pick and choose which Jewish rituals and traditions they wish to perform and disregard the ones that they view as inconvenient.
This is not an attack on the Reform Jew, rather revealing the reality of the type of Judaism being practised. All types of Jews originated from the Master Creator of the Universe, so given that we find 12 types of Jews in today’s day in age, we should encourage others to help hasten the coming of Moshiach.
Orthodox Jews observe the Torah.
They listen to what G-d wrote in the Torah and what He commands from His Jewish people. Then, they take action on the learnings and teachings.
From an outside perspective, Orthodox Jews are not too distinctive compared to Haredi Jews.
The standard Orthodox Jew outfit for men is:
- Black Suit Jacket
- White Button Up Shirt
- Black Suit Trousers
- Black Borsalino Hat
For those who are not familiar with Judaism, Orthodox Jews would be classified as “Religious”. Whereas, Reform Jews would be classified as “Not Religious”.
Conservative (also known as Masorti) Jews are essentially an in between of Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews.
Again, it echos the same sentiment as Reform Jews: We feel like doing these commandments but don’t feel like doing the others.
This is not being said to cause shame, but instead to try elevate and inspire Jews to practise their greatest gift: being Jewish.
Some struggle to see the difference between Conservative (Masorti) and Reform Jews.
Jokes fly around that the difference is whether or not the Rabbi is… Orthodox!
Reconstructionist Jews have been around for roughly 100 years and believe Judaism is constantly evolving rather than a religion that we practise based on Commandments given thousands of years ago.
This type of Jew goes a step beyond the Conservative (Masorti) and Reform Jews…
Forget picking what we want: let’s lie to ourselves so we can make our own rules.
Moving onto the real deal: Haredi Jews.
Haredi Jews are known as: “Ultra Orthodox”.
The way to understand the level of Haredi Jews’ religious dedication to The Master Creator is to view how much they fear G-d.
Haredi: ‘one who trembles (in awe at the word of G-d)’.
Haredi Jews listen to what is commanded of them by G-d and they ensure they do what they are told. Who can argue that’s the wrong thing to do? After all, nowadays we have so many different agendas being pushed that staying true to the Source is the best decision to make.
The outfit to the right is what a traditional Haredi Jewish Male wears:
- Long Black Suit Jacket
- White Button Up Shirt
- High White Socks
- Black loafers
Secular Jews (also known as Hiloni) make up the largest portion of Israel’s Jewish population at over 50%.
The notion behind being a Secular Jew is wanting to be free and liberated as Jews have been oppressed for thousands of years.
This desire to be free extends beyond Jewish Practises and therefore Secular Jews like to do as they please.
This does not imply that Secular Jews do not keep any Jewish customs or traditions. It means they do not strictly adhere to Jewish principles as they want to live in line with being liberated.
Example of how a Secular Jew would differ from a Traditional Jew: Secular Jew might not eat kosher, however have a traditional Jewish wedding with a Chuppah.
NOTE: this is an example and does not imply to EVERY secular Jew.
Masorti Jews would be classed as Traditional Jews and are essentially the same as Conservative Jews as described in the above 3) Conservative section.
It is important to note that each Masorti Jew may have different traditions.
Overall, it would likely be the case that a Masorti Jew would:
- Keep Kosher
- Not Mix Meat and Milk
- Not Drive on Shabbat
- Celebrate All Jewish Festivals
- Attend Synagogue
- Have A Friday Night Dinner With Family And Friends
To repeat what was said for the secular Jew example above, all Masorti Jews will vary in their Jewish Practises. The differences lie in how each Jew was raised.
For example, some Jews may have been raised strictly Kosher but did not attend Shul. Whereas some Jews may have always gone to Shul every Saturday, however did not keep Kosher when they would eat at restaurants.
It is entirely down to the individual and what resonates with them. And this underpins the fundamental flaw in the logic: it’s not about what you resonate with, it’s about what G-d commands of you.
Dati means Religious and a Dati Jew is a Jew who observes Jewish customs.
Dati Jews are sometimes known as “Modern Orthodox“. Essentially, they would be classified as Orthodox which was explained in 2) Orthodox section.
Dati Jews make up around 10% of Israel’s population.
As far as observance is concerned, Dati Jews keep Jewish Traditions and very much observe the Torah.
9) Baal Teshuva
Baal Teshuva Jews are Jews that started out as Secular and became Orthodox or even Haredi.
Baal Teshuva: “a master of return”
There are different reasons as to why Jews become Baal Teshuva and turn to the Torah. It can be due to a near death experience, difficult life experiences or simply wanting to discover the truth.
Being a Baal Teshuva Jew is not something that changes as you become more religious. It signifies the journey that you were not Torah observant and then became Torah observant.
Sephardic Jews came from Spain or Portugal roughly 600 years ago.
As a Jew, you will often be asked: “Are you Sephardi or Ashki?”.
The reason this question fellow Jews will ask this question is because both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews have different traditions and rituals that they have carried on for hundreds of years.
The differences between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews is an article in itself, but the overview is: they came from different geographical regions and as a result of that, they brought with different food cuisines, ways to celebrate Jewish festivals and how to practise Jewish customs.
Ashkenazi Jews came from Germany and Northern France.
Ashkenazim are the most populous ethnic group in North America today.
It’s tough to beat an traditional Ashkenazi cholent recipe…
Because Jews do not cook on Shabbat, a cholent is a great, slow cooked dish that satisfies the tastebuds of everybody at the Friday Night Dinner table.
Mizrahi Jews (also known as Oriental Jews) originate from the Middle East.
They share many similarities with Sephardic Jews.
What’s interesting about Mizrahi Jews is that they typically have strong ties to their nation of origin in the Middle East.
Because of this, the different subgroups that came from different Middle Eastern countries (Iraq, Iran and Yemen) all speak their own tongue. There is not one individual Jewish language spoken amongst them all.
Ethiopian Jews have been around for at least 15 centuries.
The rich history of Ethiopian Jews is fascinating as it is traced back thousands of years.
“For Passover in Ethiopia sometimes they’d make a variation of matzos using chick peas and would mark the end of the eight-day bread-free holiday by eating kategna, which is lightly pan-toasted injera smeared with berbere-spiced kibe. To break the 24-hour fast at the end of Yom Kippur, celebrants might eat yedoro dabo, a doughy leavened bread (dabo) that they dip in a spicy chicken (doro) sauce.”
Crypto Jews can be explained as: “Secret Jews”.
Essentially, Crypto Jews were secretly Jewish, however they publicly stated that they practised another faith.
The most known example of a Crypto Jew are Spanish Jews.
Genie Milgrom (Speaker in video above) shares her incredible journey of discovering her Jewish roots.
What stands out is her feeling deep down inside of her that she is Jewish. And then the courage she displays to discover her truth.
Black Jews have an extremely long and fascinating history.
Dating back to Egyptian times, it is believed that some Jews fled to Ethiopia.
Move along till the 1600's and black Jews arrived in the USA.
Fast forward to today, there are many black Jews based all over the world.
There are some famous black Jews who have become Orthodox Jews. such as:
- Amar'e Stoudemire (NBA Basketball Player/Coach)
- Nissim Black (Musician/Rapper)
Chabad vs Modern Orthodox
We felt it was fitting to include this question at the end because in many ways it a good way to end the ongoing sentiment echo’d throughout this article.
Some people wonder what the differences are between Chabad and Modern Orthodox.
To put it simply, anytime “Modern” is thrown into the mix.
It’s safe to say it’s not the right approach.
Why? Because we were told very clearly:
These are the commandments.
There is no “Modern” twist that changes things, unless instructed by G-d.
So, the difference between Chabad and Modern Orthodox is Modern Orthodox add some “Modern” twists…
These “Modern” twists don’t follow what Jews are told to follow.
Why So Many Types of Jews?
There are many paths to serve G-d
One person serves G-d with a lot of kindness and another person serves G-d with a lot of charitable acts.
We are all unique and serve G-d in our own unique way.
However, this should not be taken out of context that we can serve The Master Creator in whichever way we like.
We must serve Him based on The Teaching from The Torah.
And what is the reason that we are all different?
Because we are all different colors in a beautiful painting.
There you have it. 15 Types of Jews.
Each hold their own unique story. Each have their own journey to truth.
Some types can be argued that their journey to truth has unfortunately gone in the opposite direction…
But that’s a discussion for another time…
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